CNN's Acosta Presses Susan Rice on Bergdahl 'Honor and Distinction' Gaffe

On Friday's New Day on CNN, correspondent Jim Acosta showed a portion of a pre-recorded interview with Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice in which Acosta pressed her to correct her assertion that former hostage Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl had served "with honor and distinction," in spite of reports that he deserted.

But the Obama advisor declined to find fault with her previous word choice as she dodged by arguing that Bergdahl should be considered "innocent until proven guilty."

Speaking to Rice, the CNN correspondent posed:

Let me ask you about some comments you made last Sunday on one of the Sunday talk shows. You said that Bowe Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction." It's come out since then that some of his fellow soldiers say he was a deserter, he may have wandered off the post there in Afghanistan. Did you misspeak? Did you get that wrong?

Rice began her response:

Jim, I realize there's been a lot of discussion and controversy around this, but what I was referring to was the fact that this young man volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That is itself a very honorable thing.

Acosta jumped in and repeated her infamous words:

"With honor and distinction"?

Rice added:

Jim, really, I mean, this is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, June 6, New Day on CNN, which aired at about 8:10 a.m.:

JIM ACOSTA: All this week, the President has been somewhat distracted by this controversy surrounding the release of POW Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed in exchange for those five Taliban prisoners who were released from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo. I asked Susan Rice about that because, as you recall, on one of the Sunday talk shows last Sunday, she described Bowe Bergdahl as having served in the U.S. military, quote, "with honor and distinction."

That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. There are some fellow soldiers who say Bowe Bergdahl may have been a deserter, although that has not been proven, according to the U.S. government. And I asked her about those comments, and she sought to clarify those comments during our interview. Here's what she had to say.

Let me ask you about some comments you made last Sunday on one of the Sunday talk shows. You said that Bowe Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction." It's come out since then that some of his fellow soldiers say he was a deserter, he may have wandered off the post there in Afghanistan. Did you misspeak? Did you get that wrong?

SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Jim, I realize there's been a lot of discussion and controversy around this, but what I was referring to was the fact that this young man volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That is itself a very honorable thing.

ACOSTA: "With honor and distinction"?

RICE: Jim, really, I mean, this is a young man whose circumstances we are still going to learn about. He is, as all Americans, innocent until proven guilty.

ACOSTA: And Susan Rice went on to say in that interview that Bowe Bergdahl deserves to have the chance to tell his side of the story, and that we will be hearing that in the coming months.